UPDATE When CenturyLink and Frontier accepted federal Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II funding for rural broadband deployment, they also agreed to construction deadlines. As Channel Partners reports, both organizations have now informed the FCC they’ve failed to meet the deadlines.
When CAF funds were made available in 2015, CenturyLink received $506 million of the $9 billion total. Frontier received $283 million. CenturyLink was charged with providing service to 1.2 million homes and businesses across 33 states. Frontier agreed to deploy service to nearly 660,000 (later expanded to 774,000) homes and businesses in 29 states. The goal for the carriers was 80 percent completion by 2019, and 100 percent by 2020.
Last week, CenturyLink told the agency it met the target in 10 states. However, plans remain incomplete in 23 other states. “We are on track to achieve full deployment in all states by the end of 2021 as specified in the FCC’s rules, which provide the flexibility to address real-world challenges that arise as rural networks are built out,” CenturyLink said. “For 2020, we successfully met the FCC’s 2020 CAF milestone in 10 states and are close in the remaining states.”
Frontier claimed success in eight states, but admitted to shortfalls in 17 others, reported Channel Partners. Frontier cited the challenges of operating during the pandemic, and its own bankruptcy filing issues. “Specifically, although Frontier employees and construction crews continued their work to deploy broadband to unserved areas as quickly as possible throughout the pandemic, statewide shutdowns, local government lockdowns, curfews, state office closures, and hotel and business closures presented extraordinary obstacles to achieving year-end deployment goals,” stated Frontier.
Both businesses indicated they’re committed to meet their goals in 2021.
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